Michel de serto. the practise of everyday life
The practice of everyday Life
THE PRACTICE OF EVERYDAY LIFE
Michel de Certeau
Translated by Steven Rendall
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS
Berkeley Los Angeles London
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS Berkeley and Los Angeles, California
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS, LTD. London, England
Copyright © 1984 by the Regents of the University of California
First Paperback Printing 1988
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Certeau, Michel de.
The practice of everyday life
Translation of: Arts de faire.
1. Social history — Addresses, essays, lectures. 1. Title.
HN8.C4313 1984 909 83-18070
Printed in the United States of America 13 12 11 10 09 08 13 12 11 10 9 8 7
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (R 1997) (Permanence of Paper). ©
To the ordinary man.
To a common hero, an ubiquitous character, walking in countless thousands on the streets. In invoking here at the outset of my narratives the absent figure who provides both their beginning and their necessity, I inquire into the desire whose impossible object he represents. What are we asking this oracle whose voice is almost indistinguishable from the rumble of history to license us, to authorize us to say, when we dedicate to him the writing that one formerly offered in praise of the gods or the inspiring muses?
This anonymous hero is very ancient. He is the murmuring voice of societies. In all ages, he comes before texts. He does not expect representations. He squats now at the center of our scientific stages. The floodlights have moved away from the actors who possess proper names and social blazons, turning first toward the chorus of secondary characters, then settling on the mass of the audience. The increasingly sociological and anthropological perspective of inquiry privileges the anonymous and the everyday in which zoom lenses cut out metonymic details — parts taken for the whole. Slowly the representatives that formerly symbolized families, groups, and orders disappear from the stage they dominated during the epoch of the name. We witness the advent of the number. It comes along with democracy, the large city, administrations, cybernetics. It is a flexible and continuous mass, woven tight like a fabric with neither rips nor darned patches, a multitude of quantified heroes who lose names and faces as they become the ciphered river of the streets, a mobile language of computations and rationalities that belong to no one.
General Introduction xi
PART I: A VERY ORDINARY CULTURE 1
I. A Common Place: Ordinary Language 1
II. Popular Cultures: Ordinary Language 15
III. "Making Do": Uses and Tactics 29
PART II: THEORIES OF THE ART OF PRACTICE 43
IV. Foucault and Bourdieu 45
V. The Arts of Theory 61
VI. Story Time 77
PART III: SPATIAL PRACTICES 91
VII. Walking in the City 91
VIII. Railway Navigation and Incarceration 111
IX. Spatial Stories 115
PART IV: Uses of Language 131
X. The Scriptural Economy 131
XI. Quotations of Voices 154
XII. Reading as Poaching 165
PART V: WAYS OF BELIEVING 177
XIII. Believing and Making People Believe 177
XIV. The Unnamable 190 Indeterminate 199 Notes 205
Preface to the English Translation
In translation, analyses that an author would fain believe universal are traced back to nothing more than the expression of local or — as it almost begins to seem — exotic experience.